After a disappointing fourth season, Bud Dupree is looking to bounce back in a big way as the former Kentucky star will be a unrestricted free agent following the 2019 season.
The former first-round pick still has the support of the Steelers front office as the team picked up his fifth-year option that pays $9.2 million this season. Only two Steelers players will earn more than Dupree, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and cornerback Joe Haden.
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has repeatedly insisted that Dupree’s best days are ahead of him, but time is running out as production must meet potential sooner rather than later.
“I had a big opportunity last year to be in the conversation and I didn’t close the plays,” Dupree said. “I’m always in position. The plays are always there; it’s on me to finish those plays and easily have double-digit sacks. I’m trying to go out and reboot and finish those plays this season.”
With only 5 1/2 sacks in 2018, Dupree knows he must capitalize on the opportunities that come his way.
Dupree added : “I had four holding calls [against me] that would have been clear strip sacks. I also missed two or three [sacks] where I had my hands on the quarterback. So, total that up, that’s seven with the six I had, that’s easily double digits right there. And the conversation would be different.”
“It’s real frustrating, but just keep the faith and everything will work out. I’m excited. It’s a big year.”